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WWU Outdoor Center offers affordable rentals for students

With spring upon us, the Outdoor Center has what you need to get outside

The Outdoor Center’s rental shop located on the bottom floor of the Viking Union building. This center is run by Associated Students provides opportunities and materials for outdoor recreation. // Photo By Spencer Arps

From kayaks to bike racks, the rental options at Western’s Outdoor Center are vast. With outdoor recreation being an expensive hobby, the Outdoor Center can be a great resource to those looking to get into nature without breaking the bank. 

Bella Bedard, the Outdoor Center Equipment & Bike Shop 44coordinator said the Outdoor Center has everything someone might need to go backpacking. Backpacks, sleeping bags, pads and lightweight stoves are available for rent. 

The Outdoor Center also has pots, pans and tents geared toward those looking for a car camping style adventure. 

There are several other rental options including bikes, skis, kayaks and more. As the snow season comes to a close, the opportunity for mountain biking, climbing, water sports and camping is more accessible.

Ryan Askey, an employee of Jack’s Bicycle Center in Bellingham, said rentals can be a cost effective way for people to try expensive outdoor activities.

“The cost of a trail-ready bicycle is one of the biggest barriers of entering the sport,” he said. 

Renting can be a good option for those interested in getting their feet wet without the cost of buying a bike. 

“Our aim with the new rentals is to remove as many cost barriers as possible,” Bedard said. 

She said that new Kona mountain bikes were recently added to the rental fleet. 

Full suspension mountain bike rentals range from $35 to $52 depending on membership status. Bedard also said the Outdoor Center recently added two trailer hitch bike racks, each with a six-bike capacity, to their rental fleet for students looking to shuttle or drive to trail heads. 

The Outdoor Center also recently changed their policy to let students' friends who don’t attend Western use gear rentals as well. 

Lily Vanmullem, a student at Western, said they were able to use the Outdoor Center to gear up for a day of sledding at Mount Baker. 

“The trip was just $10 for the whole day,” she said. 

For a climber, or someone looking to get into climbing, the Outdoor Center has a range of available rental options. Member pricing for crash pads are $4.50 a day, with the option to rent helmets for $2.50.

For mountain climbers, the Outdoor Center also has mountaineering boots, gaiters, crampons, ice axes and ice tools for rent. Camping gear and kayaks can also be rented for both individuals and groups. 

Rental prices vary based on size, duration of rental and membership status.

Each piece of gear from the Outdoor Center is inspected after every use to ensure proper function and safety. It is rental gear, and some products will show signs of use, said Bedard, but that is expected. 

“Our student staff is always stoked to share route recommendations and advice to anyone wanting to get outside,” she said.

Spencer Arps

Spencer Arps (he/him) is a campus life reporter for the Front. He is a semi-professional mountain bike athlete, product photographer, Bellingham born and raised, and enjoyer of Whatcom County's natural beauty. On a daily basis you can find him picking bluegrass tunes, holding a camera or riding his bike.  

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